Digitalisation Drive Gives MSMEs a Business Boost

A UNDP-driven project to advance the digitalisation of Cambodian MSMEs has been hailed a success after more than 170 businesses successfully transitioned their operations online
A woman sells banana on a bicycle in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A woman sells banana on a bicycle in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

More than 170 Cambodian micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have successfully transitioned their businesses online as part of a digital drive to become more resilient in the future, under a UNDP-led programme.

The Go4eCAM project - Track 2 on Skills and Entrepreneurship Building for E-commerce, run in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), Khmer Enterprise, and the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association in Cambodia, saw 101 MSMEs complete the Incubation Programme on Business Digitalisation and a further 70 undergo the Innovation Challenge for Business Digitalisation and E-commerce Acceleration Programme.

In addition, many participating MSMEs have signed up to the platform. The online e-commerce site is funded by the Go4eCAM project and operated by MoC as a marketplace for Cambodian MSMEs to sell their products online, locally and abroad.

“These valiant entrepreneurs made tremendous improvements in their business operations by embracing digitalisation and e-commerce as new sources and path for growth,” said Sonali Dayaratne, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Cambodia, at the project’s closing ceremony.

“The MSMEs’ results show the extraordinary effort by all those involved in the promotion of digital transformation and the development of needed skills and opportunities for the inclusion of Cambodian MSMEs in the digital economy,” she added.

With MSMEs contributing to 58 percent of Cambodia’s total GDP and creating 70 percent of all jobs - the majority of which are women-owned or led, - they play a key role in the Kingdom’s economy. The sector was also badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, making digital transformation key to its sustainability while also offering access to new markets.

“By leveraging e-commerce as a new, efficient, and highly competitive business model, MSMEs not only stay connected with their customers but also take advantage of the wider regional and global supply chains. This new approach to business offers unparalleled opportunities, it removes geographical boundaries, allowing producers, such as MSMEs in Cambodia, to reach consumers quickly and efficiently,” noted Dayaratne.

“With the help of technology, consumers are no longer limited to local stores when searching for goods and services but have access to an expanded regional and global market with just a click. Digital trade and information technologies provide access to markets that were once unreachable while improving consumer experiences with customised purchasing options.”

Recognising the importance of advancing the nation’s digital transformation, UNDP has invested in various projects during the last few years. These include promoting e-commerce during the pandemic, including onboarding farmers onto AgriTech platforms, hosting a virtual job matching forum with the National Employment Agency, and rolling out an Access to Credit Guarantee Scheme for SMEs, including a Women Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Under UNDP’s latest project, 101 MSMEs completed the MSMEs Digitalisation Incubation programme, equipping them with the skills to switch to online selling, both domestically and internationally.

An additional, 70 MSMEs, of which 53 percent are women-owned and 49 percent are based in the provinces, took part in the Innovation Challenge on Business Digitalisation and E-commerce Acceleration, helping them tap into innovative online solutions.

“We are proud that these MSMEs have now access to cross-border e-commerce platforms such as and technical support on e-commerce business formalization and export-readiness,” said Dayaratne.